The sad truth of technological progress is that it often leads to worse outcomes, often for long periods of time. The classic example is agriculture, which led to most people living shorter, more unhealthy lives with more dental problems (pain!) and harder births for women. Most of these people also were oppressed by harsh kings, nobles, or big men.

Communications technologies are often heralded, and they have their good sides, but every significant advance in communications from oral memory techniques and writing to the modern internet has been used to increase centralized control and enable closeer control of more and more people. Modern surveillance and immediate communications allow micro-control of individuals which used to require a slave driver right there on the spot. (Hi, Amazon warehouses and delivery drivers!)

Other results have been mixed. For example, gunpowder led to mass conscription armies, and conscription armies have tended to correlate strongly with more democratic and equal societies. (It is VERY robust that those who actually are necessary for fighting get treated well — from Athens and Rome to medieval knights to Swiss Pikemen.)

We’ve moved out of the mass conscription era into a “professional” military period, and this has corresponded with a loss of equality, but we are now moving into an extremely dangerous period: The rise of autonomous fighting machines. Turkey used them in the recent Azerbijan/Armenian war, and almost everyone is working on them.

Warbots mean you only need to keep a small techie class happy, and even they don’t really have a veto on how elites use the warbots. If they want to massacre protestors, there is almost no possibility of refusal.

The narrowing of the base of people necessary, and their removal from the actual fighting puts us in a dangerous place, where .1 percent + a small, well-treated technical group can dominate a society and win wars; they don’t need everyone else beyond the Warbot supply chain.

So what we need is an easy counter. Something like IEDs – a technology any decent techie can create without needing a ton of resources.

Most modern techies spend their entire lives working on questionable techs–how to serve more ads to convince people to buy shit they don’t need — tech that does no good in the world.

If you’re an inventor type, and you want to do good, here’s your chance: Figure out a counter to warbots that ordinary people can use.

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